Saturday, June 7, 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice by Jen Mathieu (Tour Stop)

Out on Tuesday was an amazing, impact, beautiful book: The Truth About Alice. It's different in so many ways, and had such a lasting impact on me. One of the things that made this book so stand out for me was how well I knew Alice by the end, despite never actually getting a direct POV from her until the very end (and what perfection it is). Also stand out? How strongly each of the four narrators is built, how I was able to understand each one, even sympathize without losing sight of the bigger picture, or the pain Alice was going through. Bullying and slut shaming is so a prevalent problem, and one so complex - and this book captures that effortlessly.

This is one of those books that push you and challenge you, and is pretty uncomfortable at times. It's also so frustrating to see all Alice is going through, and to be able to see so much other "logic" against the reasons people hate her yet that's overlooked. And yet, even thinking in my head, if Brandon was drinking, it might not matter at all Alice was texting him while he drove. He also didn't have to look at his phone. But then you think of those little moments too many of us do that we don't think will matter, and suddenly it does. Or maybe none of that mattered at all - maybe Brandon would've had that accident regardless of the alcohol or texting. But even with that side of logic playing in, I was so far invested in the story I was right there with each of the four characters, waiting and hoping and worried and a whole host of emotions.

Even months after reading this book, so many bits of it continue to stand out for me. But of everything, Kurt is who I want to highlight. This sweet, awkward outcast who gets so ignored, and who maybe doesn't immediately do the "Right" thing but when you already do suffer, what really is right? He was caught in that gap of being on the edges, of being ignored, and knowing things really could get worse if he were to speak up. And when things already aren't great, is it fair to ask that of a person? It's these kind of gray areas that really challenged me as a reader and a person, and with Kurt and the rest of the cast, so often, even if I didn't agree with their choice of action, I understood it.

While this isn't an enjoyable read, per say, considering the content and the ways it will test you, it's an impacting and important and wonderful one. As a writer and editor, it's utterly astounding in its complexity, in the multiple points of view and the then and now type of story telling. As a reader, it left a mark on me. And as a person, it tested me. I really do love this book, and cannot recommend it enough to anyone and everyone.

Photo Credit: George Hixson
For more about Alice, this wonderful book, and the crazy talented author Jen Mathieu, check out the full list of blogs in this tour below. And run out to your local bookstore and grab this one, because everyone needs it in their life:

6/3: Me, My Shelf and I
6/4: ExLibris Kate
6/5: Forever Young Adult
6/6: Perpetual Page Turner
6/7: Here!
6/8: Girls in the Stacks
6/9: Rebekah Faubion, Writer
6/10: Sleepless Reads

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

SUMMARY: What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality


Reviewing a book that captures a huge part of your heart and mind, that hits all your right buttons, that speaks on so many levels to you, is sometimes impossible to do. How do you really convey everything amazing about this book, without being able to give needed details due to spoilers? That's where I'm at with this one. I feel like I should say, I know Julie. But that in no way influences my intense love of this book. Honestly, I'd almost wish we weren't friends so maybe people would believe me that much more when I say this is one of those books you must read. No matter what. (But I love Julie, thus the almost).

But this book. I connected so hard to Alice. I love this prickly girl who flat out gets revenge on people because she thinks she's dying, and she's angry, and hey she won't be around to handle the fall out. No, she's not a nice person in a lot of ways. But she goes through so much growth. I love the girl she becomes, the change in how she views the world. And, oh, god, the sweetness and connection between her and Harvey. I can see why readers might not like Alice. She does some awful things. But I rooted hard for her. And if I'm being totally honest, I saw part of myself in her. I think whether people want to admit it or not, everyone at least imagines what it'd be like to do what you want, regardless of the consequences. Then there's Alice, who really does it. I admire that. Even if it's in part because she won't have to handle the fallout. But I also just admire how take life by the horns she is, how determined she is. There is an immense strength in this girl, and I can't help but love her.

And Harvey. Oh, sweet, sweet Harvey. I love this boy. To pieces. He is so stunningly different than a lot of guys in YA. At the start, he and Alice haven't talked in way too long, despite the friendship that used to be between them. There is such palpable pain there, and it drew me right in. Then comes Alice's diagnosis, and he's back in her life. He knows she's using him, but he doesn't care. And maybe to some that makes him weak, but to me, it just melted me for this boy, this person who cares about someone so much they take the time they can get, do what they can to help that person in what is likely their final months. Yes, she treats him really crappy at times, and yet, I could never hate her for it, or hate him for taking it. Something about these two, both apart and together, enamored me and broke me. For all the ways he's possibly weak, he's got this huge strength, and a breaking point of his own. He challenges Alice, and he challenges himself. And these two just... break me. There's no other word for it. Harvey is amazing. He's that solid thing you can fall back on, yet he's also that thing that will let you fall when it's best for you int he end.

The pure brilliance of this book to me is not only the stunning concept, but how amazingly its executed. Told in dual POV between Harvey and Alice, but also in a nonlinear fashion, with the past mixed into the present on both sides. It's a style that I sometimes can't wrap my head around trying to do, and Julie does it so, so, so well. I followed the overall storyline so well, adding these pieces of the past to the here and now, combining the stories and constantly feeling my emotions shift and change. The voice is distinct and easy to fall into. Everything about this book sang to me. From the not so easy to swallow choices Alice makes to the raw yet sweet friendship and romance to the roller coaster of emotions throughout.

I'm calling it now. This is my best book of 2014.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Age Level: 14 and up
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 
Publication Date: March 18, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: Third Degree by Julie Cross

SUMMARY: I used to be “Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy.” As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I’m not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life—the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program—and it turns out my parents can’t stand each other. Now I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and that means re-enrolling as a college freshman, but this time I’m shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.

But so far, my roommate hates me and I’m not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we’re hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can’t teach me: love. Because I’m going to be alone forever if I don’t learn fast.

OPINION: This book was so dang cute, and hilarious. Isabel cracked me up so much, from the often cut and dry way she saw things, and even her trying to learn sarcasm - and spout it back out - just had such an endearing element for me. As utterly brilliant as she is, it's clear how much basic socializing she's missed out on, and how awkward and rash she can come off as. There is such a well done mix between this intelligent, driven girl and someone who doesn't always see past the next step - and therefore can't see how their current actions might have effects further down. With that, there is a really great character arc, this huge moment of growth for her throughout this, built on that but not only reliant upon it.

And Marshall. Oh, melty sigh. He is so perfect for Isabel, willing to handle her weirdness, her out of sync personality, but also falling for her pretty dang quickly. He is charming and funny, sweet and sensitive, that perfect blend of kind of cocky but mostly just genuinely kind. He teaches Isabel about so much, and my favorite thing about them is how it isn't really only bedroom based. Though there is certainly heat between them, neither one jumps right into bed, and there is definitely an overall slow burn between them. There is a lot of sexual tension to this one, but I found it more sweet than sexy, which only made me love it more.

Despite Isabel being a child prodigy, and having her MD at just eighteen, there are so many relatable things about her and her story, this girl who has so much to learn and even if sometimes she's a bit petulant, overall, she just wants to work things out and better herself. Her interactions with Justin cracked me up, the guy who is essentially her nemesis on intern rotation, and the other prodigy who ends up getting a residency while she doesn't. He antagonizes her so often, and she reciprocates, but there is still just this great element between them that lured me in. And going from a physical only, otherwise annoyed beyond belief with each other relationship with Justin to what becomes so much more with Marshall really only made Marshall shine even more.

There are a few plots woven throughout this one, but the character arcs shine the most for me. Isabel goes through such a solidly done, tremendous change, and Marshall even goes through his own changes, and the pair together is a new favorite of mine. The pacing is great, and this is a book I read straight through in a sitting. With a wit throughout the writing and a great voice that is so very Isabel, this one has so much going for it and absolutely delivered.

Source: Netgalley
Pages: 240 (ebook)
Publisher: Flirt (Random House)
Publication Date: March 25, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Character Interview and ARC Contest: Gray from Frozen by Erin Bowman

I'm so excited to have Gray from Erin Bowman's (amazing and painful) series Taken and the upcoming Frozen here today! These are some of my favorite books, and I mostly want to kidnap Gray, wrap him in bubble wrap, and hide him from Erin for all the things she puts him through. And if you thought Taken had some punches, wait till you read Frozen. Because. Wow. And ouch.

So let's get to it!

Describe yourself in four words.

This feels like a test...

I'm pretty stubborn. And impulsive. A good shot with a bow and a loyal brother.

Oh, look, I've already failed and gone over. But come on, four words? How can anyone be summed up in four words?

What is your biggest fear?

Losing my brother. I know I act like he's a pain--always playing the parent between us, nagging me left and right--but he's my second half. When he was Heisted, it was like I misplaced a piece of myself, like I was slowly coming undone. Then I got him back and realized I never wanted to go through that again. I don't know how to be without Blaine. I'm lost without him.

So.. you've found yourself in a bit of a tight spot caught between Bree and Emma. I'm going to keep my (very strong) feelings to myself, but what's the hardest thing for you in having a connection to each of them?

This is one of those questions where I'm going to sit here smiling and pretending you didn't ask me something so personal, and you're going to move on to the next topic without batting an eye.

(Kari's insert - I am totally batting eyes here. Darn you, Gray.)

Considering the title of book 2 is Frozen, what's worse for you: Freezing, or being too hot?

Heat's not so bad. It usually lets up when the sun goes down, and on a really sweltering day you can always ditch layers. But extreme cold? There is nothing worse than being unable to get warm, shivering no matter how much clothing you pull on. When you can't feel your toes and a deep breath burns like fire, hibernating animals start looking a lot smarter than humans.

Are you glad Emma followed you over the Wall, after all that happened afterwards, or do you think she would've been better off to stay?

She definitely would have been safer if she stayed behind. But that's not what you're asking, is it?

Here's the thing--It doesn't matter what I think now. Emma followed me because she wanted answers, and now she has them. Now she sees that staying in Claysoot would be the same as living in a locked cell. It's a prison, that place we called home. I'm glad she's out, even after everything. I'm going to get them all out.

What was your first kiss like?

I was twelve. Rosie Santersen dared me to shoot one of Blaine's arrows over the Wall. I told her no, he'd be furious. Then she said she'd kiss me if I did it. So I went and fetched my bow. Blaine was furious. He had me make five new arrows to replace the lost one, but it was worth it.

Boxers or briefs?

Like, boxes and crates? Debriefing sessions during a meeting? I don't know what you're asking me.

(Kari's other insert, I'm choosing to believe this means he goes commando.)

Finally, I have to ask. If you could get back at Erin for all the torture she is putting you through, what would be the first thing you do?

I think I'll hold off on saying anything just yet. Maybe Erin has a happy--or even semi-happy--ending in store for me. I'd hate to give her a reason to upend that.

That said, if something horrible does happen, I hear she hates clowns...

So there you guys have it. If you haven't met Gray before, I hope this entices you to get his book! He's a favorite of mine, that's for sure! And he kind of breaks me. Or maybe that's Erin. Because she's really kind of mean? (In a good way, I think?) (Okay, my heart is still bleeding but whatever.)

And for those of you who have read the first book and are as eager for the next one as I was, I've got an ARC of Frozen up for grabs to one lucky winner! This is US Only, and just fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 17, 2014

YA Review: Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt

SUMMARY: When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother's first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him.

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she's really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance.

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.?

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.


I loved Schdmit's debut, Send Me a Sign, not only for the strong voice and solid writing, but the incredibly realistic characters, and Bright Before Sunrise delivers just as well. Jonah and Brighton are so easy to understand and relate to, so easy to root for, even when they are on opposite ends of an issue. There is something so effortless at the way Schmidt's characters appear on the page, and she's an auto-buy author for me as a result.

Jonah and Brighton are enemies of a sort to start. Jonah's the new kid at this ritzy school, with no desire to fit in or be part of clubs/events. He just wants to get back to his old town and see his girlfriend. He wants to get away from his mom and new stepdad, and he doesn't know how to handle his mom's decision to have another baby. Brighton is the most popular girl in school, nice, caring, pretty, and that person everyone wants to know and be friends with. But she's still in constant pain over her father's death and now, the day before a memorial for her father, she's determined to get Jonah's participation in a school volunteer thing to be able to have 100% participation, an achievement her father had years ago. This is what starts the enemies type element, and what comes after is so, so wonderfully done.

I loved Jonah's character so much. This sweet, kind boy who now, is bitter, frustrated, and, after his girlfriend breaks up with him at the start of the book, lonely and a bit broken. He doesn't know where he fits in life anymore, he's quit baseball, and he's an outsider in his own family. A girl like Brighton, someone who seemingly has everything, who's the rich, popular girl, is the last person he wants to be around. Jonah is snarky and a bit standoffish to start, but there's truly just something about him that I really connected to. There is so much to like about him, though, despite how grumpy he might seem at the beginning, and I melted so hard for him multiple times.

And Brighton. She's such a multifaceted character, this girl who has taken on so much and does it with grace, yet is carrying so much pain due to her father's death. It's not even a super recent death, but it's still effecting her constantly all the same. I loved her by herself, and I loved with her Jonah, watching her soften him up and watching her own walls slowly be taken down.

This book is a romance, but I would say the stronger story line is two people in bad places fixing themselves and fixing each other. It certainly ends on a sweet and romantic note, but especially considering it takes place only over the course of one night, it's a softer side of romance. And despite being only over one night's course, I so wholeheartedly believed the changes these two went through, the connection the formed, and the depth of their budding relationship. I'll always believe that sometimes that right person comes along at exactly the right moment, and forget logic and everything else, it's truly just right in that moment and bridges something to strong to carry on - and this is what happens with these two.

The voices are spot on for each, distinct and easy to differentiate. The story is one that is seemingly slow, it's two people going through stuff during one night, clinging to what happens in the darkness before a new day rises and things might be set back to "normal". And yet, this is one I read in one sitting, I couldn't put it down or get enough of these two characters. They're characters I connected to so strongly and emotionally. This is everything I love in YA contemporary, and even if it sometimes did feel a bit slow, it still just utterly captivated me.

Source: Netgalley
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication Date: February 18, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

YA Book Review: Split Second by Kasie West

SUMMARY: Addie has always been able to see the future when faced with a choice, but that doesn't make her present any easier. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. So when Addie's dad invites her to spend her winter break with him in the Norm world, she jumps at the chance. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He's a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. She wants to change that.

Laila, her best friend, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie's memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don't want this to happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

In the suspenseful sequel to Pivot Point, Addie tries desperately to retrieve her lost memories and piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot.


I adored Pivot Point. So much. Sneaking pages when I should've been doing other stuff level of love. And I have to admit, the ending left me aching. I understood it. I believed it. But my heart had a few choice words for Kasie.

So finally, when I got to read Split Second, my heart did a happy dance. Then I actually, you know, read the book. And so, so, so awesome. Kasie has this uncanny ability for wit and humor infused throughout her books, this utterly amazing voice that just draws me right in, and her books always stand out in my mind as a result. I loved Addie in PP, but was so excited to get Laila's POV blended in this time around. And for all the ways Addie stood out and had this distinct voice and style, Laila stood out just as much. I never got confused on who was narrating, and I rooted so much for both girls.

I also love how their friendship was such a forerunning element of this book, even with their individual romances in there too. And that is just one of the many ways this book stands out so much to me. Yes, Laila betrayed Addie in a way, and yes, there are some big things they have to go through. But the trials they endure just make me believe in their friendship even more strongly. Even more, I truly love the sense of rightness that exists even with Addie's lost memories, these things that end up happening despite happening in a previous line for her in the past, and how she goes through all that.

And Trevor. Oh. Trevor. Right alongside her knack for wit, Kasie also has a talent for writing honest and real guy characters, who are just so dang sweet, even if a little bit flawed and not always in the right. Trevor slayed me in PP, and he only melted my heart even more this time around. I love his story, the things he's been through, and I loved the guy he's become as a result that we saw in PP. Now that's brought back in, reintroduced and, in a surprisingly solid fashion, built on even more. Even having known him already, I had no problems watching Addie get to know him again, seeing the things they connect over and everything else.

There is so much to utterly love about this book. While it probably can be read as a stand alone, considering how awesome the duology is, and how well the books play into each other, I recommend reading the first. Plus, if you're anything like me, you won't be able to get enough of Kasie's writing anyhow. The pacing is stellar, the plot has wonderful twists and turns, and the characters shine.

Source: ARC
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 11, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: Vengeance by Megan Miranda

SUMMARY: Nobody really believes in a curse. Until you know the people who disappear. Too much coincidence, you look for reason. Too much death, you grasp for something to blame. Carson pulled Delaney out and he died on the side of the road with her mouth pressed to his. Her air in his body. Troy. She told the cops it was suicide. Didn't matter. The lake released her and grabbed another. But when Decker's father dies in a pool of spilled water on their kitchen floor, all Decker can feel is a slow burning rage. Because he knows that Delaney knew that his dad was going to die. She knew and backed out of his house and never said a word. Falcon Lake still has a hold on them both, and Decker can't forgive Delaney until he knows why.

OPINION: DECKER. Oh. Decker. Full disclosure, I ended Fracture with a serious love/hate feeling going on for Decker. I wanted to kick him as much as I wanted to hug him. So the wait for this book was a whole lot of constant cries of 'DECKER!' to Megan. And finally. Finally I got to read his story.

And he really sort of broke me. It's clear in Fracture he's got a lot going on. He messes up. He's confused. He tries so hard. He's solid. He's this whole mix of things, and Vengeance only opens the door into him so much more. This book is everything I love so much about YA. A boy who is such a mess, who knows that maybe part of what he feels is out of line but he can't help it still, who wants things to get better and be easier but doesn't really know how for that to happen. A boy who is going through some really awful things at home. A boy who has such intense anger and grief, geared towards his best friend and the girl he's fallen for.

Yeah. Talk about a messy situation. I ached so hard for him during this book. I was so emotionally vested I couldn't walk away. And pretty much just didn't sleep to see what would happen. And this is truly one of those books that I feel is a stunning portrayal of how perspective dictates reader perception and feelings. Decker treats Delaney pretty badly for some parts of this book, and yet I never blamed him or disliked him for it. Having known her so well in Fracture (and let's be honest, his treatment of her there, too, is part of why I wanted to kick him), I certainly didn't dislike her. I felt awful for her. And yet, I couldn't really turn my back on Decker either. And if this was in Delaney's perspective, I'm not sure I would be as solidly behind Decker. And in that, I think Megan's raw talent genuinely shines.

No, Decker isn't perfect. Yes, he does some messed up things. But he's hurting, and that emotional atmosphere is so infused throughout this book, I couldn't help but be sucked right under with him. He goes through such tremendous changes in this books, things built on changes from Fracture but delved into so much more. And Delaney, for all the hurts she endures, still pulls me in as well, this girl who has faced some pretty crazy things and yet somehow fights through it. I love her and Decker as friends, and I certainly ship them so hard romantically. They are a pair I feel just fit so well together, even if Decker has to figure some things out on his own first. Everything about this book appealed to me, and add in the thriller element I've come to adore Megan for, and the well done pacing, and this book is a knockout in every way.

Source: ARC borrowed
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Walker Children's
Publication Date: February 4, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Character Profile: Z from Shredded

Monday, Tracy Wolff's New Adult release Shredded was released, and I am more than excited to introduce to you guys Z, the sexy, broody, snow-boarding love interest of the book. Hello, hotness! I am always a sucker for a damaged playboy who reforms, so let's get to knowing more about this guy!

Favorite Snowboarding Trick: The YOLO flip (cab double cork 1440)

Favorite Band: Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eminem

Favorite Movie: Reservoir Dogs

Last 3 Things Googled: X-Games Schedule, Tourist spots in Sochi, How to give driving lessons

3 Words that Describe Him: Reckless, Damaged, Protective

Rawr. And if that doesn't peak your interest enough, here's some photo inspiration for this guy:

Yeaaaaah. So. Check out this book, out now, and get to know all about Z. And his clearly lickable abs. This is the first book in the Extreme Risk series published by Flirt (Random House), and what a way to start it!

And be sure to follow the entire Mundie Moms/Mundie Girls SHREDDED blog tour for more info about the character's, read excerpts, and reviews!

About the Book:

In this intense and exhilarating New Adult series debut, a hotshot snowboarder and a vulnerable rebel with a cause try to let go of the past—and find a future in each other.

Twenty-one-year-old professional snowboarder Z Michaels is the bad boy of Park City, Utah. He’s always had his pick of any girl in town—and on the competition circuit. But underneath his cool exterior is a young man in turmoil, trying to take the edge off tragedy by overindulging in sex and shredding the slopes. In fact, Z’s reckless behavior is a thinly veiled attempt to blunt his emotional suffering with physical pain.

Ophelia Richardson isn’t like any girl Z has ever met. Though she’s from New Orleans high society, she’s no Southern belle—and she’s not shy about being miserable in frozen, godforsaken Park City. But laying low is her only option after her ex, a rich boy who couldn’t take no for an answer, nearly killed her in a jealous rage. Following that terrifying encounter, the last thing Ophelia needs is a boyfriend—especially one as rich and arrogant as Z. But Ophelia soon discovers that he isn’t what he seems. If anything, Z may be even more damaged than she is.

Tormented by their pasts and feeling alone in the world, Z and Ophelia find a connection unlike any they’ve ever known. But with Ophelia hiding the details of her life in Louisiana and Z’s death wish reaching terrifying new heights, their relationship seems to be going downhill before it even begins—unless they can find the strength in each other to trust, grow, and love again.

Book Links:
Extreme Risk #1
Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

Author Links:
Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Goodreads

Monday, February 3, 2014

Shredded by Tracy Wolff Release Blitz

Welcome to the SHREDDED book blast! The first book in an exciting new, New Adult series from author Tracy Wolff. The Extreme Risk series will introduce new adult fans to group of sexy snow boarders and the their dare devil ways, and complicated lives. SHREDDED introduces readers to the first hottie of the group, Z Michaels.

In this intense and exhilarating New Adult series debut, a hotshot snowboarder and a rebel with a cause try to let go of the past—and find a future with each other.
Twenty-one-year-old professional snowboarder Z Michaels is the bad boy of Park City, Utah. He’s always had his pick of any girl in town—and on the competition circuit. But underneath his cool exterior is a young man in turmoil, trying to take the edge off tragedy by overindulging in sex and shredding the slopes. In fact, Z’s rash behavior is a thinly veiled attempt to blunt his emotional suffering with physical pain.
Ophelia Richardson isn’t like any girl Z has ever met. Though she’s from New Orleans, she’s no Southern belle—and she’s not shy about being miserable in frozen, godforsaken Park City. But after nearly dying in the same drag-racing accident that killed her boyfriend, she needs a place to heal, both physically and emotionally. The last thing Ophelia wants right now is a boyfriend—especially one as rich and reckless as Z. But Ophelia soon discovers that he isn’t what he seems. If anything, Z may be even more damaged than she is.
Feeling alone in the world, Z and Ophelia find a connection unlike any they’ve ever known. But their tormented pasts pull them in every direction, forcing their relationship into a downhill slide before it even begins—unless they can find the strength in each other to trust, grow, and love again.

Advance praise for Shredded

“Z from Tracy Wolff’s
Shredded is so hot he will melt your heart!”New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy

Shredded features two gorgeously damaged characters and an amazingly written story that kept me on the edge of my seat! Love it!”—Toni Aleo, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Assassins series

About the Book
Published by: Flirt (Random House)
To Be Released on: 2/4/14
Series: Extreme Risk #1
Get it From: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

Read an Excerpt:
This time I don’t bother to look up when the car pulls to a stop in front of me. I’ve been sitting here for fifteen minutes waiting for my connecting bus, and this is the fourth car that’s stopped. I don’t think I look like a hooker sitting here all zipped up—and it is obviously a bus stop, after all—but given all the idiot guys who’ve stopped to offer me a ride, you’d think I was wearing a sign that read No One Refused.
Which is so not the case.
“Hey!” one of the morons in this newest car calls to me, but I don’t even turn my head. If I completely ignore them, maybe these idiots looking to get lucky will finally go away.
This time I do turn, at the urgent tone and the sound of my name. Shit. Not a stranger then, but Z, who looks confused and more than a little pissed off.
I wave to him, then go back to what I was doing before he pulled up. Which isn’t much, really. Just staring down the road and trying to keep my teeth from chattering.
I hear him curse, then the sound of the Range Rover turning off and a car door slamming. Which means I’m not getting rid of him as easily as I’d hoped.
“What are you doing here?” he demands, coming around the front of the car to crouch down in front of me. “I thought you had a car.”
“I do.” But it’s not the blue Honda outside the clinic. No, my car is safe in the parking lot outside the employee housing provided by the lodge—in the same spot it’s been in since I arrived here twelve days ago.
“Then why aren’t you driving it?” He looks at me like I’m insane. And maybe I am. Either way, it’s none of his business.
Which is why I shrug. “I’m still new to Park City, don’t know my way around very well. I took the bus today because I was worried about getting lost and being late to my appointment.” Not a lie, I tell myself. Just not the whole truth, either.
But Z doesn’t look like he’s buying it. Big surprise. After all, it takes a con artist to know one.
“Isn’t that what GPS is for?” he asks.
“What’s the big deal?” I demand, going on the offensive because the defensive obviously isn’t working. “Why does it matter if I didn’t want to drive today?”
“It doesn’t matter. Except you lied to me. And now you’re sitting out here at the bus stop, alone, in the dark and the cold, waiting for a bus that doesn’t look like it’s coming anytime soon.”
“It’s coming. It’ll be here in seven minutes.”
“Great. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you won’t be a popsicle by then. Or a rape victim.” He stands up, reaches for my hand. “Come on. Let’s go.”
I yank my hand back, glare at him. “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m not going anywhere with you.”
He rolls his eyes. “Relax, princess. You’ve been safe with me all night. I’m not going to suddenly attack you. I just want to take you back to the lodge.”
“I’m fine. The bus is almost here.”
“Yeah, I can tell.” He gestures toward the nearly empty street. Currently the only car on it, besides his, is stopped at the light a few yards away. The two guys in the front look about our age, maybe a little older, and seem intensely interested in what’s going on between us. “You don’t actually think I’m going to leave you here alone, do you? With assholes like that around? It’s practically the middle of the night.”
“It’s not even eleven o’clock yet.”
“Still. Come on. Get in the car and I’ll take you home. What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is you’re wasting your time. I’m not going to sleep with you.”
His eyebrows shoot up to his forehead. “Who asked you to?”
I almost blurt out that I know about the bet, but I don’t want him to get mad at Cam for tipping me off. “Give me a break. I know when a guy wants to sleep with me.”
“Well. Aren’t you the egotistical one?” He tugs on my hand, pulls me to my feet. This time I don’t fight him, though I’m not sure why. “Are you sure you aren’t projecting?”
“Meaning maybe you’re the one who wants to sleep with me.”
His hand is on my lower back now, and he’s guiding me toward his Range Rover. I should stop him, I know I should. But his hand—warm and firm and steady—feels so good that I’m hard pressed not to just sink into him. Already my teeth have stopped chattering as his warmth slowly seeps through the layers of my clothing and into me.
“As if.”
“That was weak,” he tells me with a snort. “Surely you can come up with something better than that.”
“I probably could if my brain cells weren’t all frozen. I swear, I don’t know how anybody lives in this place.”
He yanks open the car door, starts to help me inside like he’s some kind of gentleman instead of a too-conceited-for-his-own-good snowboarder who also thinks he’s a player. “I’m fine here,” I tell him one more time, even as I slide across the smooth leather. “You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, I do.”
“No. You—” He slams the door in the middle of my sentence, effectively cutting me off. I expect him to rush around to the driver’s seat, but instead he just stands there for a minute, looking at me through the glass of the passenger window.
I start to look away—the last thing his ego needs is for me to watch him like I’m spellbound—but I can’t. There’s something in his face, in his eyes, that keeps my gaze locked to his. It’s familiar, like I’ve seen it a million times before, and at first I think it must be the charmer in him. All smooth and smiling and I-know-you-want-me.

Remi was like that, and I figure that must be it, that there must be something of my old boyfriend in him. Except . . . except then he blinks, and the mask I didn’t even know he wore starts to slide back into place. Then I realize it wasn’t Remi that look reminded me of. It’s myself. It’s what I see every morning when I look in the mirror before I put my makeup on. Before I put my mask on and try to convince the world—and myself—that I really am okay.

About the Author

Tracy Wolff lives with four men, teaches writing to local college students and spends as much time as she can manage immersed in worlds of her own creation. Married to the alpha hero of her dreams for twelve years, she is the mother of three young sons who spend most of their time trying to make her as crazy as possible.

Author Links:
Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Goodreads

Check out the cover for the next book in the Extreme Risk series, SHATTERED, which is Ash's story.

The Extreme Risk series—Tracy Wolff’s edgy, emotional take on the New Adult genre—continues with the story of a lost soul and the fearless beauty who inspires him to take a flying leap back into life.

Ash Lewis has poured every last ounce of his blood, sweat, and tears into reaching the very top of the professional snowboarding world—until the unthinkable happens. After the biggest competition win of his career, Ash’s mother and father are killed in a tragic accident. Unable to handle the idea of going back out on the snow to pursue the dream his parents shared with him, Ash feels that he has no choice but to walk away from snowboarding forever. Then he meets Tansy Hampton.

Wild, fun, and impulsive, Tansy has a different look and a new passion every week. As a cancer survivor who spent the past several years waiting to die, Tansy has a fresh perspective on life—even if she doesn’t have a clue about what she actually wants to do with it. But she’s determined to find out, and that means making the most of her time while she still can.

From the very beginning, their chemistry is intense. But while Ash can’t stop chasing the ghosts of what can never be, Tansy stays firmly focused on the possibilities the world holds for her—and for them. She’s already picked up the pieces of one shattered life. Now she’s determined to help Ash do the same.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

YA Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

SUMMARY: Davy had everything—a terrific boyfriend, the homecoming crown, a bright future at Juilliard—but when her genetic tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, she loses it all. Uninvited from her prestigious school and avoided by her friends and family, she is placed in a special class with other "carriers" who are treated like the murderers they someday might become.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life and tells her that she alone controls her actions—not the code embedded in her DNA. But even if she can learn to trust him, can Davy trust herself?

OPINION: I was enamored with this concept from the first time I heard about it - how awful would it be to know for a fact you have a higher chance of becoming a killer? I often think it's bad enough doing the cancer genetic testing, Huntington's, etc, those sorts of things, where you find out for sure you are more likely to end up suffering from that. Correlate that to this concept, and the different implications, and I was hooked before I ever picked up the book.

In a lot of ways, I have to say, this book is maybe a bit slower. To start, it's very much about Davy figuring out how to handle suddenly being cast aside, and the echoing of so many eras in our history as a result was chilling. This is one of those books that, despite not being solid contemporary/realistic fiction, is too realistic to be comfortable. Can I imagine everything in this book actually happening? Absolutely. I really loved Davy's character. She's a good girl, a privileged girl, with so much ahead of her, at least until she's uninvited from her school as a result of being a carrier. As everything is stripped away from her, and even her own family has some tension there now, it's both painful and realistic to read. Still, there is a lot of strength to Davy as she goes through all of this, but what I loved the most is how her fear is present, even has some element of hindering her, yet she also pushes through it and doesn't let it get the best of her.

And Sean. Oh. Sean. I love this boy, so hard. He's so determined to fight back against everything happening, even while it seems impossible to do so. He's that quiet, solid sort of guy, with mystery about him and a hard exterior, yet such a genuinely good heart inside. This boy really got to me and I want nothing more than to see him come out okay. He takes Davy under his wing so to speak, and there is definitely some romance though it's not as forefront as in Jordan's prior series. In a lot of ways, I feel like these are two people who need each other right now, who found each other at the right time, though what that means in the future I don't know.

There is so much realism infused throughout this book, and as someone who reads more contemporary than anything, I completely love it. Still, the sci-fi bend to it is scarily believable to me, and despite that niggle in my mind that this is something not in our world, how easy it is to imagine had me both hooked and uncomfortable. This book has so many layers and is brilliant in ways I can't describe without spoiling anything, but I highly recommend it for fans of all genres.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Uninvited Chapter Reveal + Giveaway: Chapter Five

I'm so excited to be hosting the final part of Chapters 1-5 from Sophie Jordan's Uninvited, out on Tuesday!

I seriously love this book. It's scarily realistic, despite the sci-fi sort of bend. It's dark, intense, painful, echoes a few too many painful things in our history, but is also awesome, memorable, and had plenty of moments to still make me melt.

If you haven't read the first four chapters, you can here:

Chapter 1: Mundie Moms
Chapter 2: Jenuine Cupcakes
Chapter 3: Good Choice Reading
Chapter 4: Once Upon a Twilight

And for the trailer, check it out here! It is GORGEOUS! It might be my favorite ever?

Copyright © 2014 by Sharie Kohler

Text Message

8:42 p.m.
Can u come over?

8:55 p.m.
Sure. What’s wrong?

8:56 p.m.

9:00 p.m.
Is Davy w/u?

9:02 p.m.
Need 2 talk. Can’t b alone right now

9:10 p.m.
On way


I report to Keller High School at eight sharp.
Amid the packet of information from Pollock were the bolded
instructions to arrive at eight and depart at three in order to
avoid fraternizing with the general population. My first clue
that even at Keller things were going to get worse.
Although it’s hard to imagine that. After Zac left yesterday,
it took me a long time to pick myself up and go back inside.
Even longer for the tears to stop. The tight, aching twist in my
chest? That still hasn’t stopped.
My phone sat quietly on my nightstand all night. I had
hoped Zac would call after he had time to process. No call.
Not even a ring from Tori. I could only guess that Zac told
her. Or he told someone who then told her. It only takes one
person to get gossip rolling. Davy Hamilton is a killer. That
kind of gossip would be too juicy to keep quiet.
I shake loose the crippling thoughts and focus on getting
through this first day.
The building is gray—from the outside brick to the flat carpet
and chipping paint inside. Idly, I wonder if gray is the school
color. It’s doubtful I’ll be attending any pep rallies to find out.
We enter the office and get behind a student waiting for
a tardy slip to class. The secretary’s smile slips from her face
when Mom tells her who we are. Humming lightly under my
breath, I scan the office as they talk. A student aide gawks at
me as she staples papers together behind a desk.
I arch an eyebrow at her and she quickly looks away.
Mom signs her name to a few papers, not even pausing to
read anything. It’s like she can’t get out of here fast enough.
“Here’s your ID. Wear it at all times.” The receptionist
slides a neon-orange tag across the counter that already bears
the picture Pollock took of me yesterday. I take it and loop it
around my neck.
“The orange identifies your carrier status,” she announces,
loud enough for everyone in the office to hear. A woman on
the phone in the corner stops talking and stares.
The secretary nods with approval at the ID dangling in
front of my chest, letting me know I have no chance of staying
under the radar. I glance at the student aide. Her badge is
white. Yeah. No chance.
My eyes burn. I blink back tears, refusing to cry, refusing
to let this small thing break me. I’ve been through worse than
this in the last forty-eight hours.
She continues, “The counselor, Mr. Tucci, will take you
to the”—the secretary pauses, catching herself and correcting
whatever it was she was going to say—“your classroom.”
Mom faces me.
I stare at her, hollow inside, nothing there except the lyrics
of an old Beatles song: Hey, Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad
song and make it better. It doesn’t help much because I want to
grab her and hold her and beg her not to leave me here, but it
won’t do any good. She’s shut herself off. Her eyes are dull—
like she’s beyond feeling anything.
She squeezes my shoulder. “Have a good day, Davy.”
Like that’s possible. I nod and watch her walk away. Leave
me in this strange, horrible place.
“Sit there.” The secretary directs me to a chair against the
wall. “Mr. Tucci will be with you soon.”
Hugging my sack lunch, I drop into the seat, not bothering
to slide off my backpack. A sack lunch is another requirement.
Carriers aren’t allowed to eat anything from the cafeteria. Too
much chance of mingling with the general population. I sit at
the edge of the seat, my body taut, waiting, watching as people
come and go through the office.
It’s nine thirty before Mr. Tucci appears. The secretary
murmurs something to him and motions in my direction.
He advances on me, sizing me up with a mild expression.
I stare back. He’s dressed well in a pressed polo and slacks.
Something my dad would never wear to work, but still.
“Welcome to Keller, Ms. Hamilton.” He extends his hand
for me to shake. I stare at it for a moment, thinking he’s joking.
He can’t want to touch me.
His expression softens. “I know this is hard, but if you stay
out of trouble, you can finish out your senior year here with
no fuss.” Leaning down, he whispers for my ears alone. “Prove
them wrong.”
A ragged sigh escapes me. His words remind me of Mitchell
and for a flash of a second I don’t feel so alone. Prove them
wrong. A lump forms in my throat at the unexpected kindness
from this man. Maybe it won’t be so terrible here after all.
A moment passes before I nod, fighting the lump down in
my throat. “I can do that.”
“Excellent.” He smiles broadly. “Follow me.”
He leads me from the office and down a deserted hall. We
pass lockers. Teachers’ voices drift from inside the classrooms.
His shoes clack over the linoleum floor. We descend a set of
stairs and walk until it feels like we’re in the very bowels of
the school. We are long past any classrooms. We pass the gym.
The stink of the weight room greets me well before we pass its
open doors. A quick glance reveals a few sweaty guys working
out inside.
There are no windows. No sunlight. Just the buzz of a
fluorescent bulb every few feet. I see that the wide corridor
dead-ends ahead.
My pulse skitters nervously. “Where are we going?”
He shoots me a disarming smile. Instead of answering, he
says, “There are five others. Like you. You won’t be alone.”
I swallow. He means five other HTS carriers. And me.
Until graduation. I’m not sure I wouldn’t prefer to be alone.
“You’ll get to know them well, I’m sure.”
Before the end of the corridor, he turns left and stops in
front of a set of steel double doors. Opening the right side door,
he steps inside. I follow, but don’t go much farther. The space
is too small, occupied by a single desk. A teacher sits there,
reading a magazine. He’s young, looks barely out of college.
He quickly stands when he sees us, dropping his magazine.
“Ah, Mr. Tucci. Good morning. Is this the new one?” He
nods in my direction, tugging on his waistband as though his
wind pants need adjustment.
“Yes, Mr. Brockman, this is Ms. Hamilton. I’m sure you’ll
show her the ropes.”
Mr. Brockman looks me over, his gaze crawling, and I
suddenly feel exposed before him. “Not a problem, not a problem,”
he says.
I cross my arms. As if that might help to shield me from
his measuring look.
“Very good.” With another smile for me, Mr. Tucci
departs. I wince as the heavy steel clangs after him.
And I’m left with Mr. Brockman and the others, HTS carriers
whose stares I feel boring into me.
Mr. Brockman motions behind him. “Welcome to the
“The Cage?” I echo.
He chuckles. “Yep. That’s what the kids call it. The name
kind of stuck. Even the staff calls it that now.” He nods to the
wall of chain link behind his desk.
It makes terrifying sense. What better way to remove us
from the general population than to stick us down here with
only ourselves for company? And beyond isolation . . . we’re
“The Cage” consists of chain link stretching from floor to
ceiling. On the other side of the chain link there are about ten
desks. Only four students occupy the desks, all staring at me
with varying expressions. Maybe Mr. Tucci was wrong about
the number. Or maybe number five has done something bad
and is in jail.
Immediately, I see that the gate-like door is the only way
in or out. Mr. Brockman moves to open it. “It’ll take them a
while to round up your assignments. You’ll just have to amuse
yourself for today.”
The door squeaks as he pulls it open.
I pause at the entrance, reluctant to move inside, to take
the first step that will officially make me one of them. I look
back at him, unnerved at how close he’s standing beside me,
still looking me over in a way that makes me feel like a piece
of meat.
“So you don’t actually teach us?” I ask for clarification,
scanning his attire. He looks more like someone on his way to
the gym than a real teacher.
“No. Call me a glorified babysitter. I started as a part-time
sub, but they hired me full-time last year. I just turn your work
in to your teachers on the outside.”
On the outside. Teachers I’ll never even meet. I realize this
I peer inside the Cage, eyeing the others. Three boys and
one girl. She’s no longer looking at me, concentrating instead
on carving something into the desk with her pen.
“That’s Coco.” He takes one more step, bringing his body
closer. The soft bulge of his stomach presses against my arm.
“Bet she’ll be glad for some female company. Just been her in
here with the boys since last year.”
There’s something in his voice that makes the tiny hairs
on my nape prickle, and suddenly I’m not sure what I’m more
afraid of: the Cage and the supposed killers inside—or Mr.
Brockman on the outside.
“Course you don’t have to go in just yet.” His voice falls
close to my ear. “If you want you can stay out here a bit with
Then I know what frightens me more. At least right now,
in this moment, the answer is clear.
In the Cage, I notice Coco’s pen holds still. Her attention
remains fixed on her desk, but I know she’s attuned to me. To
Brockman. Her alertness reaches me, folds into my own veil
of awareness.
Squaring my shoulders, I step inside the Cage.

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